SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – Many of our readers have packed the Vermont Academy gym in recent seasons to watch quality prep basketball. You have seen many a star who went on to perform at the next level, both in a Vermont Academy uniform, as well as in the opponents’ garb.
Now, there is a former star who made Williams Gym in Saxtons River his home court during his high school years and is likely moving on to the NBA.
“He put our program on the map, that’s for sure,” said coach Alex Popp in ringing words of endorsement Tuesday morning. Popp cherishes the contributions Bruce Brown made to the Vermont Academy program as a Wildcat.
Brown, who spent a couple of years in a Miami Hurricane uniform, recently declared for the NBA draft. Unfortunately, Brown missed the end of his sophomore season at Miami due to injury, but he proved to be a solid player in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
He was an academic all-league performer at Miami during his freshman season and averaged just short of 12 points a game for his career at the university. However, Brown was never about the numbers on the court despite the fact he put up some good ones.
When asked about whether Brown would end up a first round choice, Popp responded, “The consistent message that we are hearing is that he could go mid-to-late first round. Most franchises that might be interested already have their established stars and are looking for a fit for their system who can rebound. And the toughness Bruce brings is off the charts.”
This past winter among my beats were the Dartmouth College men’s basketball team, and two Bostonians were among the players in the team’s starting five.
Guillien Smith didn’t know Brown too well but had spoken to him a couple of times. However, he had an opinion of something he had seen. “I know he is tough and has a great work ethic.”
Big Green Captain Miles Wright has known Brown a long time. “I grew up with Bruce and played in the same league since we were six or seven. I have seen him grow up as a ballplayer and a man. He is a terrific player, an incredible athlete, and he worked hard as a player to earn the distinction of being one of the top players in the country. Everyone knew when he put up 30 on North Carolina, he was a special player.”